Results tagged ‘ Opening Day ’

What to Watch for: 4.4.13

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Miami Marlins (0-2) vs. Washington Nationals (2-0)

LHP Wade LeBlanc (0-0) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (0-0)

Washington aims for a season-opening sweep as the Nationals face the Marlins in a rare, midweek mid-afternoon affair at Nationals Park. Miami has yet to score through the first two games of the season against the Nats pitching staff.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Ramos C

9. Zimmermann RHP

LUCKY NUMBER 13

According to Elias, the Nationals became just the 13th team since 1900 to open the season with consecutive shutouts, blanking the Marlins 3-0 after a 2-0 Opening Day whitewash. It also marks the first time any team in Expos/Nationals history has accomplished the feat. The last MLB team to turn the trick was the 2002 Arizona Diamondbacks.

DEEP SIXED

Gio Gonzalez became the just the third pitcher in franchise history, and the second since the team moved to The District, to throw at least six scoreless innings and homer in the same game. He joins Floyd Youmans (6.8.86 vs. Philadelphia) and Livan Hernandez (9.14.10 at Atlanta) on the short list.

UNTUCK YOU TO SLEEP

Rafael Soriano closed out his second save in as many games, allowing a hit and a walk in a scoreless ninth inning. In 12 career appearances at Nationals Park, the reliever has a 1.59 ERA (2 ER/11.1 IP) and has converted all seven of his save opportunities.

What to Watch for: 4.3.13

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Miami Marlins (0-1) vs. Washington Nationals (1-0)

RHP Kevin Slowey (0-0) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (0-0)

The Nationals and Marlins had Tuesday off following Opening Day on Monday. Washington rode a pair of blasts off the bat of Bryce Harper and a combined, three-hit shutout from Stephen Strasburg, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano to a 2-0 victory in the first game of the regular season.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

OPEN SESAME

Washington blanked Miami, 2-0, in Monday’s season opener at Nationals Park. Stephen Strasburg earned his first Opening Day win with 7.0 scoreless innings, during which he allowed just three hits, walked none, struck out three and required just 80 pitches. Bryce Harper homered twice to account for both Nationals runs. Rafael Soriano struck out a pair during a perfect ninth to notch the save in his Nationals debut. Ryan Zimmerman started his 8th straight opener at third base for

Washington and he kept the Fish off the scoreboard with a dazzling play to end the first inning. The Opening Day shutout was the first registered by a team from Washington since 1971, when the final incarnation of the Senators blanked the A’s, 8-0, at RFK. The game was played in front of the largest regular season crowd (45,274 – sellout) in Nationals Park’s six-year history.

HARPER’S HISTORY MAKER

Not only did Harper become the youngest player in MLB history to homer twice on Opening Day, he did so by going deep in his first two at-bats of the season. Thus, he became the first player to homer in his first two at-bats of a season since the Pirates’ Garrett Jones turned the trick in 2010. Harper also became just the third defending Rookie of the Year to blast two home runs on Opening Day (Boston’s Carlton Fisk Carlton in 1973, Los Angeles (NL)’s Raul Mondesi in 1995).

GO GO GIO

Gio Gonzalez makes his 2013 debut at Nationals Park after throwing the home opener in D.C. last season. In that game, against the eventual NL Central Champion Cincinnati Reds, Gonzalez allowed just two hits without a walk, fanning seven over 7.0 scoreless frames to earn the first of his MLB-high 21 victories.

Recovery Act

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Opening Day brought Nationals fans plenty of early-season excitement, from Bryce Harper’s power display, to Stephen Strasburg’s quiet dominance, culminating in Rafael Soriano’s closing introduction.

Each of those performances were thrilling in their own way, but going back to the beginning of Spring Training, none were as unexpected and inspiring as Wilson Ramos earning the Opening Day start behind the plate.

Quietly, Wilson Ramos's return was perhaps the most impressive story on Opening Day.

Quietly, Wilson Ramos’s return was perhaps the most impressive story on Opening Day.

When pitchers and catchers reported to Viera, Florida on February 11, Ramos was just easing his way into action after recovering from a right knee injury suffered last May in Cincinnati. The damage required two surgeries, with the repair to his anterior cruciate ligament not taking place until July 18 – leaving just seven months until the start of camp.

With such a brief amount of recovery and rehabilitation time, the common question was not whether Ramos would able to start on April 1 against the Miami Marlins, but if he had progressed enough to land on the Major League roster or instead would begin the year on the disabled list.

Slowly but surely, Ramos began erasing doubts. The 25-year-old Venezuelan caught his first bullpen session on February 14, then participated in sliding drills on March 2. He made his first in-game catching appearance March 5 during a Spring Training contest against the Houston Astros, then caught a full game for the first time on March 22 – just 10 days before Opening Day.

His breakthrough occurred with five days to go. In a March 27 split-squad game against the Atlanta Braves, Ramos belted two mammoth home runs, driving home four runs in the 11-2 victory. No longer saddled with concerns about his knee, Ramos was able to cut loose with his swing, displaying the power that made him one of baseball’s top hitting catchers during the 2011 season. He was almost all the way back.

Then, at 1:09 p.m. on Monday, it became official. Given a “carrot for hard work” by manager Davey Johnson, Ramos found himself catching Strasburg’s gem and batting eighth in Johnson’s lineup. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance, then singled sharply through the hole on the left side of the infield in his second. He masterfully blocked balls in the dirt. He caught a laser of a throw from Harper in the seventh inning, then fired to first base, trapping Placido Polanco in a rundown. Eventually, he tagged out Giancarlo Stanton trying to score to complete the rare 7-2-3-4-2 double play, helping Strasburg out of his only jam of the afternoon.

Ramos will rest every other day to start the season, sharing time with Kurt Suzuki and continuing to build up strength. But now, unlike the beginning of spring, the common question is not whether or not Ramos will play, but what he might be able to accomplish now that he’s back behind the plate.

A Storybook Beginning

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None of us know how this season will end. That would, after all, defeat the purpose of the six-month odyssey that lays before us: the highs and lows, anticipation, frustration, elation, and satisfaction that only a baseball season can bring. But on Monday, we at least learned how this story would start.

And it was hard to imagine a more perfect beginning.

Bryce Harper made the most of his first Opening Day.

Bryce Harper made the most of his first Opening Day.

Bryce Harper’s first swing of the season connected with a hanging curveball out of Ricky Nolasco’s hand, soared 400 feet through the Washington spring air and landed in the right field bleachers. In his second at-bat, Harper punished another Nolasco breaking ball, depositing it within 50 feet of his original blast. Two at-bats, two home runs for the defending Rookie of the Year. He couldn’t have scripted a better beginning to his sophomore season.

Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg allowed a single to start the game, then set down the next 19 Marlins batters, mostly on a combination of weak groundouts and lazy fly balls. He was not the overwhelming, 14-strikeout Strasburg of his 2010 debut, but he was just as dominant, allowing only three hits over seven scoreless frames.

Tyler Clippard fired a scoreless eighth and newly-acquired Rafael Soriano came on for his first save opportunity in the ninth, with Harper’s two runs of offense still representing the game’s only scoring to that point. Soriano rang up the Marlins 1-2-3 hitters with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth, freezing Miami star Giancarlo Stanton for strike three to put the first Curly W of 2013 in the books.

As we all catch our breath Tuesday, the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day fading into our rear-view mirror, we know not every day will like the first this season. But if the first taste of the season is a harbinger of anything to come, Nationals fans have plenty to be excited about this season.

The Lighter Side of Spring

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Most of the time, fans see the intense, serious, NATITUDE-driven photo work we do with our players during Spring Training. So with the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day in the books, relax and enjoy the latest in our digital features, the lighter side behind the scenes with many of your favorite Nationals players.

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13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #1

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In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#1: Next Year Is Here

This offseason may have seemed torturously long. The sudden void of passion from the greatest season in franchise history coming to a screeching halt might have made the winter months seem like years. That’s what happens when your team’s games mean more. It is an unavoidable side effect of winning.

Last season was all about potential, about the new car smell of a winning franchise. But we are not here to rehash last year any longer.

We’ve come here to bury Pete Kozma, not to praise him.

NATSST_02162013_DMOnce the reality of last season was accepted, the focus turned to next year. And now, as you sit reading this, next year has, at long last, become this year.

This year is about expectation. The return of Adam LaRoche. The additions of Dan Haren, Denard Span and Rafael Soriano. Full seasons of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper for the first time.

The stakes have been raised. Make no mistake, that’s a good thing. Before Sports Illustrated, or ESPN, or anyone else had a chance to raise them from the outside, Davey Johnson set the tone – just as he did last year. And just as we did last year, when we told you that the clock had started on the Nationals window of contention, on this Opening Day, we’ll tell it to you straight.

We’ll never forget Game 5, but we’ll always remember Game 4 as well. We have experienced the joy of must-win victory, but we yearn for more, for the chance to savor it this year. However, we also know that nothing is guaranteed.

October is not an entitlement. It is earned every day, in Washington and in the 18 cities across the nation to which the Nationals will travel this year. Because there is no October until after September, and August, and July, all the way back to April, to right here, right now.

It’s time to launch the journey that will define this year, and possibly many years of Washington baseball past and present.

It’s time to begin.

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #2

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In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#2: Nationals Publications Go Digital

At the Nationals Park offices in Southeast D.C., we’re always looking for ways to deliver new experiences and cutting-edge technology to you, our loyal fans. That mindset has led to the creation of our popular Red Carpet Rewards program and has evolved into The Ultimate Ballpark Access platform – the next generation of ticketing we described on these pages last Wednesday.

TOC IP 1Today, we’re announcing an additional concept for the 2013 season: a new digital component for Nationals Magazine and Inside Pitch.

For those of you who choose to enjoy our publications in the traditional way – picking up copies at the ballpark, flipping through the pages at your seat and setting them on your coffee table at home after the game – you’ll still find our feature stories, photographs, stats and much more. But for those fans who want to get additional, interactive content directly on your smart phone, mobile device or computer, we’re here to deliver.

If you want to watch a clip from Bryce Harper’s on-camera interview to supplement the written article on your page, you can. If you want to see a full gallery of photos to complement the photo on your page, you can. Or if you want to watch the highlights from the previous Nationals game, you can do that as well.

Viewing that content is simple. Throughout each publication, you’ll find digital content boxes that allow you to VISIT (an internet link) TEXT (a shortcode) or SCAN (a quick response or “QR” barcode). For example, nationals.com/mag will send you to Nationals Magazine content. For the text message shortcodes, text the code listed to 91347. To view a QR code, scan it using an app on your mobile device. There are plenty of free QR apps available in your app store of choice.

So, welcome to the 2013 season and the latest evolution of the official publications of your Washington Nationals. We hope you’ll share your feedback – positive, negative or otherwise – in the comments below or by sending us an email at CurlyW@nationals.com.

Enjoy!

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #3

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In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#3: Davey’s Last Stand

Davey Johnson made it clear heading into the 2013 season that this would be his last at the helm of the Washington Nationals. Twice a World Series Champion as a player, the four-time All-Star and two-time Manager of the Year looks to finish his storied career in storybook style. With the excitement and anticipation surrounding the 2013 Nationals, we can’t imagine anyone better holding the reins.

Read all about Davey’s Last Stand in your free copy of Inside Pitch, available now at Nationals Park.

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #4

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In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#4: Changing of the Guard

For years, the American League East has been looked at as the gold standard among baseball’s divisions, often stacked three or four deep with postseason-caliber clubs. Last year, the Baltimore Orioles laid claim to a Wild Card spot behind the New York Yankees, and the Rays remained in contention until late in the season.

This season, the Yankees are facing a number of injuries to key players, including back-to-back 40 home run-hitter Curtis Granderson and three-fourths of their starting infield in Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. The Red Sox traded away star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and free agent acquisition Carl Crawford along with veteran rotation mainstay Josh Beckett. Tampa Bay sent stalwart starter James Shields to Kansas City in return for top prospect Wil Myers, who will start the year at Triple-A Durham. Baltimore made few improvements to a club that many believed overachieved last season. Really, only Toronto, a 73-win club a year ago, made significant improvements. Given all that, can the AL East really be considered the class of the sport anymore?

Jordan Zimmermann and counterpart Andy Pettite symbolize the shift in power of the respective defending Eastern Division Champions.

Jordan Zimmermann and counterpart Andy Pettite symbolize the shift in power of the respective defending Eastern Division Champions.

One need look no further than its National League counterpart to find a good argument that the power has shifted. The Nationals return a young, potentially improved team from the version that won an MLB-best 98 games in 2012. Atlanta, itself a 94-game winner, plugged the holes created by losses of Chipper Jones and Michael Bourn by acquiring both Upton brothers to complement their young core. Even Philadelphia, coming off a disappointing season, is primed for some measure of return to the form that saw the Phillies win five straight division crowns prior to last season. The Mets still have David Wright and some talented young arms emerging. Only the Marlins seem destined for a true rebuilding year.

That being said, a Nationals-Yankees matchup still offers plenty of intrigue. More still, when one looks at the starting pitching matchup, a duel of two likeable, workmanlike stars in Jordan Zimmermann and Andy Pettitte.

While Roger Clemens garnered many more headlines in his heyday, it was the quiet, affable Pettitte who was so universally admired and who thrived consistently in the background. He was content to succeed without the hype, much the same way that Zimmermann continues to progress into one of the best young pitchers in the game, despite the shadow cast by fellow rotation-mates Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez.

Consider Zimmermann’s accomplishments to this point in his career: the Nationals hidden ace has posted a lower ERA (3.47 to 3.75) and WHIP (1.208 to 1.358) with a substantially better K/BB rate (3.50 to 2.05) than the often more heralded Pettitte over their same aged seasons.

And so, as the two teams and starters meet Friday afternoon in our Nation’s Capital, one could say it will mark a symbolic changing of the guard. The defending champions of their respective divisions, a quiet ace and his veteran squad coming face-to-face with their ascending, youthful counterparts.

13 Things We’re Excited About for 2013: #5

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In the lead up to Opening Day at Nationals Park on April 1, we’re counting down 13 things we’re excited about on and off the field heading into the 2013 season. Be sure to check back each day as we add another item to the list and get one day closer to the return of baseball to Washington!

#5: The Ultimate Ballpark Access

New for 2013, we’re revolutionizing the fan experience at Nationals Park with The Ultimate Ballpark Access. It’s the next generation of ticketing, and it’s exclusively for Nationals fans.

TUBALike anything new and different it will take a little while to get used to, but once you start reaping the benefits we’re sure you’ll be thrilled.

Simply put: in 2013, your card is your ticket. No more worrying about keeping track of paper tickets for every game, for six months or more. Everything is reduced to a single card that fits neatly in your wallet.

By moving your entire Season Plan online, we’ve allowed you to add partners to your plan and share seats via email with just a click. Want to trade in your seats for another game ahead of time? Easy, just use the Future Exchange Program. Miss a game without having a chance to exchange your seats? Turn them in this year and you’ll receive Red Carpet Rewards Points, which you can use to bid on special experiences, autographed items and merchandise, using the new auction feature.

And yes, as many of you have asked, you can still have commemorative tickets printed at the advanced ticket sales window, should you so desire, for only a $3 fee. All proceeds will go directly to the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.

Still have questions? Hopefully this will help. And as the crowds continue to grow at Nationals Park, hopefully you will continue to reap the rewards.

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